Awkward Interview

September 20, 2011

Well, my life is not getting dull.

I started Seminary last night, taking my first course toward a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy.

Today I had an interview for one of the part-time Instructional Aide positions in our school district. I am not certain that it is wise for me to work every day, while still trying to juggle homemaking tasks, seminary, child rearing, and sanity. So, there’s that.

But I don’t think I’m in much danger of getting a job offer, if all of the candidates are as qualified and professional as the woman who was interviewing with me.

She has a teaching credential and an art degree. She’s taking courses in Autism interventions. She’s been working closely with several teachers in the district and is a highly sought-after substitute teacher.

She sounded awesome answering all the questions.

I was like, “Huh, what is this job for again?” “Uh, I’m qualified because I’m a mom.” “I really like children.”

Okay, I’m exaggerating a little. I really don’t think I sounded that dumb. But I was definitely not trained like this woman. I want a part time job that works with my family’s schedule and I like working with kids. That’s about it. This woman was a professional educator!

I’m actually quite proud of myself, because although I recognized immediately the disparity between this other woman and myself, I smiled and held my head high and have not beat myself up in the aftermath of this awkward interview. I have been chuckling about the ridiculousness of it all. I’m not holding my breath waiting for a second interview either.


Keeping Me Humble

July 27, 2011

Today I had an experience that reminded me of my utter humility in this world.

I went to the optometrist, because after almost 36 years of perfect vision, I have been starting to experience difficulty in focusing my eyes when reading.

Dave decided to work from home and accompany me to my appointment, and boy, was that a good thing.

All was going well as they measured things, flipped through lenses, and made me track things with my eyes. Then came the glaucoma test.

The doctor put bright yellow drops in my eyes and handed me a tissue on which to dab any excess.    That was the first freaky thing, looking down and seeing those neon yellow splotches on my tissue.  The doctor explained that these drops would simply numb the eyeball for the next procedure.  Numb the eyeball?!  That was the second freaky thing.

The third was my inability to hold my eye open as the doctor approached me with this machine that emitted an eerie blue light. My lashes kept slamming shut, despite my best efforts to keep them open.  Freakiness. The doc had to pry the eye open and hold it there while he pushed the creepy light directly up to my eyeball.

And then the other eye.  Same deal.  And his breath was hot and stinky.  I suddenly felt so nauseous and claustrophobic, with this complete stranger so close to me, holding open my eye and looking at it through a weird machine.

He finished up the exam and sent me to the frames lady, declaring I simply needed some reading glasses to help with focusing problems.  As I thanked him and stumbled toward the frames lady, a loud ringing sound began in my ears and I felt shaky and like the world had suddenly become surreal.  Uh, oh.

Freaky thing number four, or are we at five?  I had to confess to the woman that I felt quite sick, indeed.  She graciously told me to put my head down and rest.  I was mortified and embarrassed, but managed to choke out that my husband was in the waiting room and could she please fetch him?

Dave came in, took one look at me and said, “Whoa.  You’re awfully pale!  You okay?”  “Can I lay down somewhere?” I inquired desperately.  Mrs. Frames-Lady answered in the affirmative and Dave took my arm as I staggered, nearly collapsing in a dead faint, to a nearby exam room.

Ten minutes or so later, with a cup of cranberry juice in my hand and much fussing over me by the sweet frames woman, I felt much better.  And very humbled.  Never mind that I’ve given birth three times and am generally a tough cookie.  Numbing eyedrops, glaucoma testing machines, optometrists with halitosis… put them together, and you’ve got a scenario to remind me of my frailty and humility.  And you’ve also got a story that I laughed about for the rest of the day, for the sheer ridiculousness of it.

That title, “Life is strange sometimes,” is all that remains of a silly post I started a few days ago about an experience I had at the local reptile store. (It is likely that the local reptile store is a fabulous place to come to this realization.)

But alas! I was blogging from my iPhone. (I know, that’s ridiculous, but our family computer is set up in our loft where our youngest child is currently sleeping so as to restore sibling peace. And when can I blog but when she’s in there sleeping?)

I need to move the computer because this iPhone blogging is so tedious, especially when your battery dies and the entire draft is lost.

Which is what happened to my reptile store post. And I haven’t had the heart to try to recreate it.

Praying Mantis Hope

June 23, 2011

Our youngest daughter is a budding entomologist. She loves all sorts of creepy crawlies and saved up her own money this spring to purchase a pod of praying mantis eggs. After six weeks of anticipation, the things finally hatched. Hundreds of mantids were scurrying out, and I bravely captured a dozen or so, which we placed in separate jars. A few have died, a few were generously given away to other bug-loving pals, but we still have five of the little critters. They have all molted at least once, and some have now molted twice.

They really are fascinating creatures.

I was watching one just this morning as I drank my coffee, (I fully acknowlege my nerdiness) and realized that he was in the very process of molting. It was truly bizarre. This tiny, tan mantis hung upside down and slowly, painstakingly began wriggling down out of his old skin to emerge, bright green and slightly translucent, and nearly twice as big. The old skin remained behind, completely intact, just empty.

Like in C.S. Lewis’ The Last Battle, when the children note that the stable is bigger inside than out. Well, sort of like that.

As I watched I noticed that he would wiggle a little way out, then rest, just swaying slightly as he seemed to gather up the energy for another wiggle. The first set of legs (the “praying” ones) emerged first. As each new limb struggled its way out of the old shell, he would wave it around experimentally, then be still, waiting and working on his job: to be totally free of the old skin.

Once he was out, he seemed clumsy and awkward, probably not used to his new big self.

If anyone is still reading this rambling description, thank you for indulging me.

I couldn’t help but to slip into an allegorical mindset as I watched this little guy’s transformation. My life has seemed a bit harder than usual recently, with many (frightening) attempts to “do the next right thing,” only to have no apparent success. Every venture has felt like seeing an open doorway through which I should walk, only to have the door slammed in my face as I got near it.

Mixing metaphors, I am. Back to the mantis:

What if these struggles are like God’s plan to have me emerge, failing in what I thought He planned for me to do, but bigger, stronger, and cooler once I press through? What if He put these trials in my life not to have me sail through, small and triumphant, but to change me through the pain to emerge a different sort of Leanne? A more trusting, peaceful Leanne. A Leanne with a faith that has been enlarged and stretched, albeit painfully, with times of resting and regrouping. A Leanne who comes out fragile and clumsy at first, but when her new skin hardens up and she gets used to her new limbs, she is so much more effective than before in catching juicy fruit flies to feast on…?

Okay, eventually all metaphors break down. But hopefully you get the picture of my anagogic observation of a molting praying mantis.


A “Sick” Dad

March 29, 2011

Last week Dave was asked to do a presentation for Lucy’s 6th grade English class. They’ve devoted the entire month of March to learning about “healthy living,” and Lucy’s wonderful, energetic teacher asked Dave to talk about living simply. Other parents have come in throughout the month to speak about their various vocations like dentistry, massage therapy, and financial management.

Most people remember middle school as a painfully awkward time, and Dave felt the burden of speaking to Lucy and her classmates in a fashion that would not embarrass her or shipwreck her social life forever. In fact, I think he was more nervous about this particular talk than any of the presentations he done for crowds of over 100 adults. He practiced, he fretted, he created a power point.

Lucy seemed pretty confident in Dave’s ability. She’s proud of her dad. In fact, she compared him to a previous guest speaker who she said “was kind of dorky, not cool like Daddy.” (How cute is that?)

Dave did fine. Lucy informed him when she got home from school that everyone in her English class told her that they really liked her dads’ presentation. In fact, I think he may have received the highest compliment of his career to date. A boy with whom she also has math class during the last period of the school day made a special point of pulling her aside and saying, “Your dad is sick.”

Translation for those of us that are no longer cool and young: really neat and impressive.


March 4, 2011

Just a quick little post to recount two cute things Bridget said this week:

“But I want yellow eggs and ham!”  (Said after I cleverly added green food coloring to the scrambled eggs on Dr. Seuss’s birthday.  She originally was enthusiastic about me making green eggs and ham, but the sight of the greenness freaked her out.)

“You know, I’m kind of a tom cat.” (Said in the context of explaining that she likes to play with boys.  I think she meant tom boy, but how cute is that?  Tom cat!)

New Adventure!

February 28, 2011

We listed our house to sell last Thursday.  This was a really sudden occurrence.  We’ve been doing the Dave Ramsey budget for several months, and knew our financial situation was tight, but until February 13th, I hadn’t really considered this idea.  (Dave confessed to me that he’s been thinking of it for some time, but was a little nervous to suggest it to me.)  Well, I did shed some tears thinking about it.  I love our home.  It’s big and bright and in a cul-de-sac and I’ve finally gotten all the rooms painted and situated and my little garden is well established in our tiny back yard.  I love our location and our neighbors and just about everything about this place.

But that’s the reality: it’s just a place.  A place where we live and laugh and eat and clean and fight and carry on our daily lives.  Really, we can do that anywhere.

And I’m so happy that we are not in a position of foreclosure, or needing to do a short sale.  We bought our home nine years ago in our fledgling little community and it’s worth more today than it was back then.  Not many of our friends can say the same.  We’re looking to downsize to a town home in our same community, and (God willing and the numbers work out) pay a lot less for our monthly mortgage and have some money in the bank.  Worth it?  No question.

That’s not to say I haven’t had some more tears.  Grief over this “necessary ending.”  And fear about how things will work out.  (Will our house really sell?  And when?  And will we be able to find a townhome that will work for our family?  And will the timing work out??)  But all in all, I’ve been peaceful.  I’m praying God’s blessing on this endeavor.  And somehow, I’m seeing my sweet children and my dear husband in a more poignant, cherishing sort of light.  We are what matters, not where we live.  I keep thinking of that verse  “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.”  (Luke 12:48)  How much I have been given!  Healthy, great kids.  Loving marriage.  Sound mind (most of the time. ;))  How can I not trust that God will provide abundantly what we need in this time?

So that’s where we’re at.  If you’re looking for a great home, let me know!  🙂

Guinea Pigs, Revisited

January 21, 2011

Some longtime readers of this humble blog may remember an incident I had with our guinea pigs a couple of years ago.

I have had another guinea pig experience that rates much higher.

Ebony is our beloved black guinea pig.  She is sweet and very tame.  She is happy to sit in your lap, especially if you have a sprig of parsley for her to munch on, and just let you pet her.  Often, she lets out little cooing noises of pleasure when you stroke her back.  I love this piggy.  (Almost to the point where Dave and others have questioned my sanity.  That is the level of affection I have for her.)

So a couple of weeks ago, when I noticed that she seemed poorly, I was concerned.  She didn’t want to be pet.  She squealed in discomfort if I touched her.  And she was constantly scratching herself, to the point where her skin was all gross and flaky looking, and her hair was falling off.  And she was hardly eating anything.  Pitiful, indeed.

Now, as much as I love her, I wasn’t about to fork out the money (and psychological well-being) to take her to the exotic pet veterinarian.  I don’t have the money.  And even if I did, I don’t know that it’s morally appropriate to spend hundreds on a rodent.

So, I did what everyone does when in doubt. I did a google search and diagnosed her myself.  Mites.  I was sure of it.  How and where she got them, who knows?  But how to treat them? Well, that became clear.

I went to the feed store and bought a $6 tube of ivermectin.  It’s a horse medication for parasites or something.  The dosage was for a 1250 pound animal.  Obviously, I needed to do some serious math.

I borrowed a kitchen scale from my culinary neighbor.  I weighed sweet little Ebony (in a container, of course!) and found her to be 478 grams.  With sweat beads breaking out on my forehead, I carefully did the math division problem and titrated down a fraction of the gooey paste meant for a huge horse.  Even this fraction was way too much, so I diluted it with vegetable oil and carefully squirted two tiny drops in her mouth.  (All I read on the internet warned me that an overdose could be fatal.)

And then I watched her.  She seemed the same, but she was still alive by that night so I thought the dose was okay.

And now this is really going on and on and even I am getting bored of the story.  So here’s the upshot.  She’s doing great!  Skin is healing up!  She gained more than 25 grams in 2 days.  She’s no longer furiously itching herself.  And she’s scarfing down her food and timothy hay and fruits and veggies in  alarmingly large quantities.

And I have to admit: that was a satisfying, cheap accomplishment.

If Blogs Were Children…

November 3, 2010

I would be facing an investigation by Child Protective Services.  Oh, the neglect!

I had been operating under the impression that when my children went back to school (all of them, for once!) I would have oodles of spare time, to blog, read, exercise, have coffee with friends.


Not so much.  Bridget is only in afternoon kindergarten, and Lucy starts school an hour earlier than Phoebe, so all in all, I have 2.5 hours a day without children.  On Wednesdays, only 1.5.  And on Mondays, I work in Bridget’s class.  The housekeeping (which still remains sub-par, in my opinion), the laundry, the grocery shopping, and the meal planning…  well, there just isn’t much time left over.

But I miss writing.  So I’m going to try to be back.

The weather is hot and dry; typical San Diego fall weather, but kind of annoying, nonetheless. The frost is on the pumpkin?  I don’t think so.

Halloween was a smashing success, except I didn’t get any photos of the kids.  We had a bunch of people over for dinner (witches’ brew chicken soup) so I was busy with hostessing…

Lucy started guitar lessons in addition to horseback riding.  She’s loving Middle School.

Phoebe is still doing piano and Irish dance.  In fact, she just won first place in the “Beginner 1 Reel” at a recent feis.  So proud!

Bridget is wrapping up her first soccer season, with much enthusiasm but not a lot of skill to show for it.   Kindergarten is suiting her just fine.

Dave and I are doing the Dave Ramsey “Financial Peace University.”  Feeling super excited to buckle down and get our financial plans in place.  We’re also teaching 3rd and 4th grade Sunday School together, and leading worship for that class, which has been fun and….interesting.

Well, that’s the catch up for now.


Hutchmoot 2010

August 9, 2010

Dave and I just returned from Nashville, where we attended Hutchmoot 2010. My mind is full and my heart is warmed and I want to capture some of my initial thoughts before they fly away.

1. The company was awesome. There were about 100 of us, and I didn’t get a chance to meet everyone, but everyone I did meet was warm and interesting and a pleasure to talk with. My fears about feeling awkward or out-of-place were unfounded. It was a warm, gracious community of thoughtful Christians committed to Story and Art and Truth.

2. The literary sessions were satisfying. To hear people talk in glowing terms about some of my favorite authors (George MacDonald, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Walt Wangerin) felt like my inner nerd’s dream come true. I don’t often think about how few people in my day-to-day life share my interest and enthusiasm for these authors, but, oh! was it delightful to be amongst fellow fans who “get it.”

3. The authors and musicians there were wonderfully real people. Andrew Peterson, Andrew Osenga, Andy Gullahorn, Jill Phillips, Jason Grey, Ron Block, Pete Peterson, Jonathan Rogers, Eric Peters, Randall Goodgame. Some of their work was familiar to me, some not so much, but I frequently tend to be intimidated and “star struck” by famous people. Not here. These people are real, honest, vulnerable, approachable, humble, willing to confess confusion and weakness and insecurity. And also willing to share their talents to inspire and encourage fellow Christ-followers.

4. The food was phenomenal. Evie Coates catered the whole thing. I have to confess, I was skeptical that home-made food for such a large number of people would be anywhere near edible. Boy was I wrong! This was some of the best food I’ve ever eaten in my life! Some things I took little samples of to be polite, and I’m not exaggerating when I say I did not try anything I didn’t like. Mmmmm…. my mouth is watering just thinking of the burritos, rice salad, gazpacho, morrocan spice chicken, sweet potatoes, tomato relish, desserts….

5. The music! Andrew Peterson’s Counting Stars release concert on Friday night was so fun. To see him live, to hear the stories behind the songs, to watch the banter and camaraderie between the musicians. All was delightful. The second night, the Square Peg Alliance concert was a totally different feeling concert, but wonderful and moving.

6. The keynote speaker. Walter Wangerin. Wow, was it more inspiring and interesting than I would have guessed. He gave tips for being writers and “shapers” of stories, for being “pilers onto piles” and “heapers onto heaps.” He wove his own stories into the “lecture,” illustrating what he meant so seamlessly. I’m still digesting many of the things he said, and have some thoughts planted like seeds in my mind. I intend to give them water and sunlight and see what grows!

7. Nashville itself. Beautiful. Green. Lush. Trees everywhere! Heat and humidity. It just felt like a different world, and it reminded me how nice it is to travel and get away from normal routine.

Wow. Can you tell I’m on a “high” right now? I’m ignoring the unpacking, laundry, and cleaning up I need to do so I can just rest in the memory of the Hutchmoot. I love my life, and I feel all charged up for doing what I do – mothering and homemaking and a few little creative ventures here and there.

And I can’t wait for Hutchmoot 2011.